News / Europe

Russia Seethes on Sidelines as West Prepares Syria Actions

Russia Seethes on Sidelines as West Prepares Syria Actionsi
August 30, 2013 8:12 PM
During Syria’s civil war, Russia has stood out as President Bashar al-Assad’s strongest ally. Now that the United States reportedly is preparing an aerial attack on Syria, where is Russia? VOA's James Brooke reports from Moscow.
Russia Seethes on Sidelines as West Prepares Syria Actions
James Brooke
Russia’s Navy is sending two warships into the Eastern Mediterranean, near the shores of Syria.
At the same time, Russia’s state-controlled TV shows President Vladimir Putin 6,000 kilometers to the east, touring flooded farmland in Siberia.
All week long, Russia’s president has kept quiet in public on Syria.

He is leaving his aides to do the talking as Western powers consider punishing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for allegedly gassing inhabitants of a Damascus suburb last week.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin tweeted: "The West behaves like a monkey with a grenade in the Islamic world."

Military victory "an illusion"
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was more diplomatic about Western intervention in Syria’s civil war.

“If somebody thinks that by bombing the Syrian military infrastructure and leaving the battlefield for the opponents of the regime to win, they will end it - it is an illusion,” Lavrov said Monday at a press conference here. “Even if they win in such a way, the civil war will continue.  Those who represented the government side will simply become the opposition.”

International military deployments directed toward SyriaInternational military deployments directed toward Syria
International military deployments directed toward Syria
International military deployments directed toward Syria
​Russian analysts said that one or two days of punishing air strikes will not turn the tide of a war that has already cost 100,000 lives.
"Syrian regime will suffer a lot and it will lose some of its potential,” said Georgy Mirsky, professor of Mideast studies at Moscow’s Higher School of Economics. “But Russia and Iran will make up for it. Everything will be compensated for this."

Mirsky and Russian parliamentarians say that Washington’s true goal today is the same as Washington’s past goals in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya - regime change.
Mirsky said that Russia will gain by doing nothing, calling such a position "extremely advantageous" to Russia.

"Now if the Americans engage in a war, in a new war they can't win, it is all the better for Russia," he said.
Blaming the rebels
Leaders of the United States and France said they are moved to military action by the alleged poison gas attack last week that reportedly killed 350 civilians and injured thousands more.
In the West, the prevailing consensus is that Syrian government soldiers carried out the gas attack, making it the latest escalation in over two years of attacks on civilians in opposition areas.
In Russia, diplomats and journalists have repeatedly suggested that Syrian opposition fighters gassed their own neighborhoods.
"Why is there such certainty that this was done by the regime while the arguments we're hearing are anyway not convincing?’” asked Vitaly Naumkin, World Politics faculty chair at Moscow State University. “It's incomprehensible. Why we can't wait for the (United Nations) inspectors to finish their work?"
Dissenting voices have been silenced.
Mahmoud al-Hamza, a Moscow-based member of the Syrian National Council, the opposition umbrella group, spoke to VOA.

"In the year since President Obama said that using chemical weapons crosses the red line, Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons and gas thirteen times," he said "This isn't the first time, and it won't be the last."
Al-Hamza says he is rarely invited to appear on Russian television.
“Two months ago, we wanted to hold a round table on Syria, and the special services warned us that they would arrest us,” he said, referring to Russia’s intelligence services. Speaking for opponents of President Assad, he said in Russian: “We don’t feel comfortable here.”

UN veto and evacuation
In the last two years, Russia has vetoed U.N. Security Council resolutions for taking action against the Syrian government three times. Given the chance in coming days, Russia will undoubtedly cast a fourth veto.
Russian officials admit their ability to block the United States is limited. Even Minister Lavrov said Monday: “We are not going to fight anybody.”
A Navy official said Friday that the main role for Russian warships sent to Syria could be to evacuate some of the estimated 30,000 Russian citizens who live there.
The most Russia may do is snub President Obama next week when he comes to St. Petersburg for the G-20 summit. On Friday, a Kremlin aide said that President Putin will be too busy to do more than shake hands with the visiting American president.

You May Like

US, China Have Dueling Definitions of Cybersecurity

Analysts say attribution or or proving that a particular individual or government is responsible for a hack, is a daunting task More

Snowden: I'd Go to Prison to Return to US

Former NSA contractor says he has not received a formal plea-deal offer from US officials, who consider him to be a traitor More

Goodbye Pocahontas: Photos Reveal Today's Real Native Americans

Weary of stereotypes, photographer Matika Wilbur is determined to reshape the public's perception of her people More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Nick from: USA
September 01, 2013 7:29 AM
You are wrong when you say America wants to go to war in Syria. If America wanted to take military action we would have done so two years ago. The situation we find ourselves in has to do with principle. The world universally condemns the use of chemical and biological weapons and we unanimously declare their will be consequences in order to deter by anyone from using them. Then if someone uses these weapons does there not need to be a consequence, otherwise what is to keep someone else from using these weapons since the world has shown their will be no consequences for doing so.
The U.S. does not want war with Syria but we believe there needs to be a response for Assad using chemical weapons on his people. We do not seek to take over Syria, we would much prefer it if Russia, China, the UK, France, Turkey etc worked with us but countries do not want to come along we still see it as a job has to be done.

by: Blue_Sky from: Addis
August 30, 2013 9:33 AM
The only 'West' hoping to intervene right now is the USA, and sending warships is hardly classified as 'seething on the sidelines'. Even if you must go for hyperbole to drum up a vision of grandeur, one understand that there are limits too to that kind of thing.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs